Google the word "asinine." Even if you already know what it means.
When I did, Merriam-Webster's first result read "Extremely or utterly foolish." Decorum prohibits me from relaying a few other definitions that appeared, put in the context of what I've seen coming out of Lansing lately, but it's tempting...
Anyway, I'll not mince words: The slew of 'educational reform' bills in the Legislature supported by Governor Snyder and some of his cohorts are completely asinine.
The Trenton-Grosse Ile Patch put an objective guide about each of these bills together. You can look at it here.
I, however, am not objective at all about any of this. I don't pretend to be. I'm a teacher in Trenton Public Schools. I also teach online and face-to-face classes at the Wayne County Community College District and the University of Phoenix. I've been teaching for a living over the last 16 years, before and during the digital revolution, and experience has taught me something about what works educationally, and technologically, for high-school as well as college students.
I'll take that perspective as an educator as I expose these bills for what they really are, in the order that the Patch lays them out:
House bill 6004 and Senate bill 1358: What gives the so-called "Educational Achievement Authority," run by a group of Governor Snyder's cronies, independent of the state Board of Education, and with no local check on their power to mess up local communities, the power to snatch up property that doesn't belong to them, paid for by your tax dollars, sell 'education' from these buildings, and destroy what public schools planned to do with them? These bills would, if you let the legislature pass it. Yes, it's pretty asinine to give a small cabal of people a license to steal.
House bill 5923: Purely online schools? For K-12 students? Run by businesses? Online classes are NOT regularly supervised while a student is working in one. That makes them best suited for self-motivated and mature learners. How many middle school students fit that profile, to say nothing of elementary-age kids or kindergartners? Will your 12-year-old son, for example, voluntarily get a thorough education in algebra at home online while you're away at work, or will it end up being a quality education in "Modern Warfare," "Skyrim," or his girlfriend, while the business pockets your tax dollars, tells you he did great in 'school,' sends his bogus 'student growth results' to the state, and repeats the fraud? Truly asinine.
Additionally, do you think it's good policy to educate K-12 foreign students with YOUR tax dollars when Michigan students in Michigan public schools desperately need those resources right here and now? Even if foreign students pay tuition, when Michigan or US students attend these supposedly 'globally competitive' schools, your tax dollars are contributing too. If you hate foreign aid, you should loathe this backdoor version of it.
The Michigan Public Education Finance Act: This one is the most asinine of all, because of the godawful mess it will create for EVERY educational institution.
Public schools are already having a rough time discerning when the Snyder administration will pay them the per-pupil money they need every year. School administrators have to constantly guess at how much they'll get, even though the funds are only paid twice a year and it's based on a relatively static pupil count. Boards of education need to forecast budgets, plan for incoming students, and make sure the staff are there to teach them, among many other administrative concerns, and jump through plenty of bureaucratic hoops that this supposedly "small government" Republican administration puts up regularly. Schools don't run on this uncertainty very well.
Under this act, a student could attend a school for just one class, or a few--then jump to another school and do the same thing, and another, and another, while taking online classes too. The money per pupil would be PRORATED between all those local and online 'schools.' Multiply that problem by almost 2 million public school students in Michigan (not including out of state and foreign students that decide to drop in), for just one school year, and you get an idea of the logistical nightmare of who gets paid what for which student.
What happens when students shift all over the place like this, year after year? Schools will have what the military might politely call 'The Mother of All Charlie-Foxtrots.' I'll just stick to asinine.
Governor Snyder calls this gigantic mess "Education any way, any time, any place, and at any pace." He left out the word "quality" at the beginning. Was that done on purpose?
You don't have to put up with any of this. Contact your state representative or senator today, as well as Governor Snyder, and tell them to reject all of these destructive bills that will trash education all over the state.
Thanks for your time and consideration in reading this!
Trenton Education Association